Liverpool continued their near-perfect opening to the Premier League campaign on Saturday afternoon with a 4-1 thrashing over Cardiff City at Anfield in a fixture which saw Sadio Mane score his first brace since the opening day of the season.
Indeed, the Senegalese attacker was back to his blistering best against the Bluebirds as he notched two goals of the highest quality in the second-half.
His first goal may have lacked an aesthetically pleasing build-up as Mane was forced to scrap over a loose ball to create the space for a left-footed strike, but the emphatic finish certainly made up for the cagey moments which preceded it.
And Mane turned on the afterburners to get on the end of Mo Salah’s perfectly weighted through ball before he provided an equally sumptuous dinked finish to bypass the onrushing Neil Etheridge and complete the rout in-front of the Kop.
It was a goal scoring performance which served to showcase the aspects of Mane’s quality which encouraged Liverpool to part with £34 million to sign him from Southampton in 2016, and BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks was eager to laud him for his performance in his weekly team of the week column.
‘You won’t see two better goals this season from Mane than the ones he scored against Cardiff on Saturday. His power, strength and all-round agility for his first goal was sensational. As for his second, what a move.
‘His exchanges with Mohamed Salah in the lead-up to Liverpool’s fourth were sublime. Mane is looking like the player he was when he first joined the club from Southampton.’
Crooks’ esteemed praise is certainly justified on the back of another glowing performance from Mane, and his reference to the Liverpool ace’s early form for the club is more than merited based on how he started the 2016/17 campaign.
If anything, Mane is playing well above the level he set for himself shortly after his arrival at Anfield, as he only managed to score 4 times in his first 9 Premier League appearances – 2 less than he has managed this season.
With a productive understanding now firmly established with Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah in attack, Man has the quality around him to ensure that his flourishing form merely represents the beginning of his most potent season in English football.
But without a single goal or assist registered in Liverpool’s fixtures against Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur this season, it’s time for Mane to prove he can boss title-rivals as well as relegation-threatened sides.
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